The language barrier

The other night while at work I was asking this really nice Japanese couple if they would like another drink.  They would say “ii desu”  but nod while saying it.  It is my understanding that “ii” can mean no or sometimes yes.  So when he nodded I was thinking he wanted another but I got the feeling that it was a misunderstanding and kept asking to make sure.  So our banter went back and fourth till finally I asked “keko desu”  then he said yes.  We had a good laugh about the situation but I don’t think he noticed he was nodding while saying  he didn’t want another.  Usually I can pick up on what they are trying to say with body language.  This was just one of those times when I just couldn’t really fully understand.  This is not the first time this situation has happened, sometimes I get the beer and come back and everyone on the table starts to laugh and the person who I thought ordered it just looks at me confused.  Then I immediately understand what has happened and take the drink back with a look of embarassment on my face.  These little instances make my job so enjoyable.

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